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If you use Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, you’ll want to get a router that you know will give you the best call quality no matter where you are in your home, even when other family members are gaming or streaming 4K movies from Netflix. VoIP calls don’t require a lot of internet bandwidth by themselves, but they can easily be squeezed out by more demanding services.
So getting the best VoIP router is even more important if you don’t have an especially fast internet connection, since features like Quality-of-Service (QoS) can help to ensure that your voice calls always get top priority, but you’ll also want to make sure that it actually knows how to differentiate voice calls from streaming video. If you’re only making calls using your PC or telephones over hard-wired connections, Wi-Fi range won’t be a big deal, but if you’re prone to pacing around your house with your smartphone, you’ll definitely need that range to cover your whole house reliably in order to avoid dropped calls, even on congested networks.
Great 5GHz range
Good QoS features
Below average 2.4GHz performance
Limited wireless settings
TP-Link's Archer C7 proves that a good router for VoIP services doesn't have to be expensive or even specialized as long as it's reliable and offers good range. This dual-band router runs on two different frequencies: a 2.4GHZ band that offers up to 450Mbps throughput and a 5GHZ band with 1,300Mbps, for a total 1.75Gbps of available bandwidth. It also has the kind of dynamic QoS features that you'll often only find in more expensive routers, letting you ensure that your VoIP calls get priority even when your kids are watching Netflix in 4K.
The TP-Link Archer C7 contains three 5dBi internal antennas, as well as three external ones to provide maximum coverage for even larger homes, and it offers four Gigabit Ethernet ports for faster wired connections, plus two USB ports for sharing printers or external hard drives. The Archer C7 is more than capable of meeting the streaming needs of any family or home office, and also features a convenient, easy-to-use mobile app that lets you adjust a range of settings, such as guest privileges and device management.
"You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a solid VoIP router, since reliable QoS and good range are far more important than bleeding-edge performance." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Integrated VoIP gateway
Supports cordless DECT phones
Can replace a DSL modem
If you're a serious VoIP user and you're looking for a router that can do it all, Asus' DSL-AC87VG may just fit the bill. Built on the same platform as Asus' popular RT-AC88U, this router not only offers fast and solid dual-band Wi-Fi, but it can actually both replace your router if you're a DSL subscriber and act as a VoIP hub and gateway for both analog and cordless phones.
The four Wi-Fi antennas use Asus' AiRadar beamforming technology to provide strong high-speed coverage so you can make smartphone Wi-Fi calls throughout your entire home, while dual CPUs optimized wired and wireless connections, separating the 5GHz Wi-Fi processing from DSL and VoIP tasks to ensure smooth performance. The DSL-AC87VG also provides versatile connectivity, letting you use it as a DSL modem, a traditional router over Ethernet, or even as a 3G/4G LTE router by attaching a wireless dongle to the USB port.
What's especially cool about the AC87VG though is that it can act as a complete VoIP system in addition to a router, letting you register it with up to 10 SIP-compatible VoIP accounts and then hooking up your standard analog telephones to the two RJ11 jacks on the back, or even linking up to five cordless DECT phones to the built-in DECT base station. Not only does it have enough horsepower to handle up to nine simultaneous voice calls, but it even features an integrated solid state answering machine.
Eight Gigabit Ethernet Ports
Two USB 3.0 ports
Cutting-edge QoS features
If you're a gamer, you're definitely going to need a lot more performance than the average Wi-Fi router offers, but while the QoS features of many gaming routers also lend themselves very well to both voice and video calling over IP, it's still important to have a router that offers both good range and the ability to balance traffic beyond just gaming, and this is where Asus' GT-AC5300 particularly shines.
Featuring some of the most advanced QoS features available, the GT-AC5300 will easily be able to make sure that your Skype calls get through smoothly even when other family members are buried deep in a game of Call of Duty in the basement, and our testing showed that its tri-band beamforming antennas provide enough range to cover a 5,000 square foot home, with MU-MIMO ensuring that all of your devices get the best possible performance.
On top of this, you also get Asus' advanced AiProtection features to safeguard your network against malware, and VPN capabilities to secure your network—and your Wi-Fi calls—without slowing down your gaming.
"The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is a big and bold tri-band Wi-Fi router that’s built specifically for gamers and technologically savvy buyers, but even the average user can appreciate its performance power." — Yoona Wagener, Product Tester
MU-MIMO at a budget price
Inconsistent download speeds
Limited software features
Linksys' EA7500 Max-Stream is a powerful router with great wireless range and advanced features that won't break the bank. The dual-band Wi-Fi offers 802.11ac speeds of up to 1.3Gbps on the 5GHz band, and as our testing shows, thanks to MU-MIMO and beamforming technology, up to 12 of your Wi-Fi devices can get maximum speeds from just about anywhere in your home. This means you won't need to worry about spotty Wi-Fi calls when you're wandering around with your smartphone. Advanced QoS features, which Linksys calls "media prioritization," lets you ensure that your VoIP devices get the bandwidth they need so that your voice and video calls continue uninterrupted.
While the EA7500 offers a fairly plain design, that can actually be a benefit since it lets you place it out in plain view without having to either feel the need to hide or show it off, which is important when you want to ensure optimal coverage for your entire home. There aren't even any status LEDs on the front, making it one of the most inconspicuous routers we've seen. Instead you'll find those LEDs around back, along with four Gigabit Ethernet ports for hardwiring your devices, plus a USB 3.0 port for hooking up a hard drive to share your files.
"If you don’t need the fastest wireless router on the market, and you’re just looking for something that’ll let you and your family stream without interruptions, you can’t really go wrong with the Linksys Max-Stream AC1900." — Bill Thomas, Product Tester
MU-MIMO and Tri-Stream 160
Open source firmware
Solid 5GHz performance
Below average 2.4GHz speeds
Linksys' classic WRT series of routers dates back almost 20 years, and have actually been solid VoIP routers since the original WRT54G, thanks to their support for OpenWRT and DD-WRT open source firmware. The WRT3200ACM continues that tradition, offering a high-performance dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi router that can deliver a strong and fast 5GHz signal to your entire home.
Thanks to its Tri-Stream 160 and MU-MIMO technology, the WRT3200ACM actually delivers some of the best 5GHz performance of any router available, and with faster speeds and less susceptibility to interference, the 5GHz band is where you want your VoIP devices to be for reliable voice and video calling.
The open source firmware not only provides advanced QoS features to keep your VoIP calls running smoothly even in the stock configuration, but it also makes this router highly customizable, with versions of OpenWrt available that can be actually turn this router into a dedicated VoIP gateway, SIP proxy, or even a PBX server, so it can go well beyond simply ensuring that your calls go through reliably.
"Open Source routers open you up to a whole new world of customization, since you can effectively swap out the standard firmware that comes with your router for other packages that offer a range specialized features. This makes these routers great for those who like to tinker and tweak settings for the best features and performance." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Can be used as a range extender
Easy to setup
Advanced settings are limited
This speedy wireless router achieves 1Gbps wired speed and dual-band 1.2Gbps 802.11ac wireless speeds thanks to two high powered external antennas, and it can also be used as a Universal Range Extender to boost an existing wireless network and beam it to increased distance in your house or workspace.
Some other nice perks of this router include full control of router lights, so you can dim them if they are distracting during a movie. You can also cut short your kids' all-night gaming marathons by restricting active hours or block inappropriate content with parental controls. Further security measures include WPA/WPA2-PSK, firewall and a guest network.
Fast single-band Wi-Fi
Excellent VPN support
Not a particularly discrete color
Setup can be a bit complicated
If you're on-the-go a lot and don’t trust hotels or workspaces to have safe and secure Wi-Fi, consider bringing along this mini travel router. This pocket-friendly device is lightweight and convenient enough to bring anywhere, and instantly connects to paired devices when it switches to a new Wi-Fi, so you don’t need to enter the password each time. It can even be powered by a laptop USB port, eliminating the headache of finding an extra outlet. It works by converting wired network to Wi-Fi, allowing you to tether or do VoIP calling.
It's also open source and programmable, backed up with a repository of over 4000 software packages, including TOR firmware that is under active development. It can be synced with one of over twenty VPN networks, guaranteeing that your browsing is private.
Wi-Fi 6 support
Lacks parental controls
Although you don't need your router to offer blazing fast speeds just to make VoIP calls, if you have the money to spend it certainly doesn't hurt to get the best performing router you can afford. Netgear's Nighthawk RAX80 will not only deliver on that, but also paves the way for the future thanks to its inclusion of new Wi-Fi 6 technology.
The sleek design features a pair of hawk-like wings that hide its four high-powered beamforming antennas that can provide up to 2,500 square feet of reliable high-speed coverage with bandwidth to spare—up to 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz band and 1.2Gbps on the 2.4GHz side. Other leading-edge technologies like MU-MIMO and 160MHz channels help to deliver the fastest speeds to your devices even at longer ranges.
There's more to Wi-Fi 6 than just raw speed, however, as it also improves the reliability of your Wi-Fi even on busy networks, so you'll be far less likely to get dropped calls or other interference, even when you're walking around your house with your smartphone, and the good news is that if you're using one of the latest Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy models, you've already got Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax support baked right in.
"Wi-Fi 6 isn't just about faster speeds—it also automatically provides improved security over older Wi-Fi standards, since most Wi-Fi 6 devices also support the newest WPA3 security standard, which not only makes it harder for hackers to get into your network but also introduces features that make it easier for you to connect." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. university campuses, and even coast-to-coast wide-area network (WAN) deployments.
Yoona Wagener has a background in content and technical writing. She has written for BigTime Software, Idealist Careers, and other small tech companies. Yoona enjoys helping people simplify processes. She has experience providing technical support and help documentation to end users, building websites for small business owners, and offering career advice to social-impact job seekers.
Bill Thomas is a Denver-based freelance writer who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. They began writing for Lifewire in January 2018, but you can also find their work on TechRadar. Bill has also worked as an editor at Future.
Quality of Service: Perhaps the most important feature in a VoIP router, especially if you don't have have a fast internet connection, is Quality of Service, or "Qos." This lets you prioritize the traffic on your network so that important things like voice and video calls can run smoothly and not be bogged down by Netflix streaming or gaming. Most routers offer at least a basic QoS that allow you to prioritize specific devices manually, while some of the better ones can actually recognize different types of traffic, such as Skype or FaceTime calls, and deal with them accordingly.
Range: The signal range your router offers will make a big difference if you're regularly making Wi-Fi or other VoIP calls from your smartphone. Since voice calls don't take a lot of bandwidth, you don't necessarily need maximum speeds at the farthest reaches of your router's range, but it has to be able to provide a reliable signal throughout your whole home, otherwise you'll be suffering from dropped calls or distorted conversations.
VoIP-specific features: If your primary use of VoIP services is for things like Skype and FaceTime, you don't necessarily need to look for a router that offers VoIP-specific features. However, if you're looking to connect your analog phones to an online VoIP provider and use it as your home phone service, it may be useful to pick up a router that has VoIP gateway features built-in, or at least an open source router that lets you customize it for specific VoIP requirements.
Take a look at our ultimate router buying guide now.